I remember the local draft board.
"Not qualified for airborne. Oh well, brother.
Someone like you couldnít make it", While later - laughter.
"Now what kind of soldier will we make out of you?
Youíll go straight to the battalion aid station. "
But they made me a soldier just like all the rest.
But in war, as in war,
It was more for me, it was double duty.
My gym shirt glued itself to my back from sweat.
I lagged behind, ruined the formation,
But somehow once, during one battle,
I donít know how, but I caught the top sergeantís eye.
The dug-in boys were noisy:
"Student, whatís two times two?"
"Hey, blank-cartridge, is it true Tolstoy was a count?"
"But then what was his wife?"
Then the platoon sergeant broke in -
"Get some sleep, youíre no saints, and tomorrow thereís a battle."
And once, when I stood
All the way up, he said: "Get down!"
Followed by a few ungrammatical words.
Who needs a hole in the head?
And then suddenly he asked: "Is it really true that in Moscow
There are houses five floors high?"
Above us a squall. He moaned.
And inside him a shell splinter cooled.
I couldnít answer his question.
He lay on the ground five paces from me,
For five nights and five sleeps,
With his face to the West, and feet to the East.